Look Out Lancaster Avenue, an Earthship is Coming!

by Manuel McDonnell Smith

A look at the Earthship Construction Site at 675 N. 41st Street. (Photo by author)
A look at the Earthship Construction Site at 675 N. 41st Street. (Photo by author)

Heads up West Philadelphia, our Earthship has landed!

But whoa! It’s not from outer space, in fact it’s quite the opposite. According to organizers, an “Earthship” is an energy- passive home that meets five principles:

  • It’s built completely from recycled material.
  • It runs it’s own water, collected from rainwater on the roof, and subsequently filtered and pumped through the building
  • It grows its own food source
  • It’s internal climate is stabilized by thermal mass. (In short: It maintains it’s own warmth)

• It maintains its own sewage, using some for food production, and toilets are flushed by undrinkable used water collected from the building’s showers and sinks.

The idea to build Philadelphia’s first Earthship began with Thomas L. Miller. The owner of the long vacant lot at 675 N. 41st Street, just below Lancaster Avenue, heard Rashida Ali-Campbell, founder of the non-profit group LoveLovingLove, Inc. on a radio show talking about her idea to get one built here. He promptly called the station to donate the lot to her. But what will this innovative building bring to the community?

“We want to bring holistic health information and activities to the community through workshops, holding free events on the land, and having workshops for people to learn how to build an Earthship themselves.” Ali-Campbell said on a blog for the project. “So that other people who have the desire to build can grab up some of these 40,000 vacant lots and turn them into something beautiful and sustainable.”

So far, Earthships have been built in remote locations including Montana and Colorado, and according to the project’s website, construction of one is planned on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. But West Philadelphia’s Earthship appears to be the one closest to being completed in an urban environment.

Our recent visit clearly shows, some progress has been completed at the site with tires, concrete, and can walls slowly beginning to rise at the location. As construction moves forward, The Parkside Journal will follow and update the project’s progress and keep readers informed in print and online

For More Information on Earthship go to: http://www.earthship.com/philadelphia

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